Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sermonating

Prior to being Lutheran, I was in a state of confessional confusion and confessional dearth. While I was in this state of confessional wilderness I worshiped in a Presbyterian Church, faithful to the Westminster Confession though I myself could not get myself to sign on it. BTW, I listen to these so called Confessional Lutherans in the blog world talk about Calvinism and they do not know what they are talking about. Mainly because they are repeat-after-me-sem-prof pastors they are not trained to think independently or question what is being taught them. They do not even go check the sources.

At any rate in that Presby church, the pastor is a fine preacher. He does exposition of the text, very well done I might add. Lots of it, more than 20 minutes of exposition. Unfortunately, you are left with Law.

Now I listen to these so called Confessional Lutheran 8 minute sermons, you do get often Law and Gospel, but they do not have a text! They often do not refer you to the text they are preaching from, hence, no exposition. Well of course, if the pastor believes (wrongly) all ARE already SAVED, they just have not believed it yet, what is there to say? He winds up saying - "hey people you are already saved, what are you hanging around here for? Go home! Peace be with ya!"

So-called Confessional Lutherans actually do not like the style of Luther. Luther preached long and tons and tons of Scripture and exposition I might add. Just look at the Large Catechism, it was an entire series of sermons. I think this is the problem, they like to learn sermonizing not from Luther but from some cutesie homiletics theory. It really boils down to not believing the Word will do its job. They want quick and easy results. No wonder, Lutherans are looking no more in their own church. Those who are afraid to leave just suffer and become just like a boat tossed, they are still in the cage but they are malnourished and wobbly.



26 comments:

Gregory L. Jackson said...

LPC, you might add "so-called" to Confessional Lutherans at the beginning of the last paragraph. The problem is overuse of the term by those who are anti-Confessional. I would apply that to anyone who adheres to the Brief Statement of the LCMS while opposing the Book of Concord. Like the Book of Mormon and the Bible, they do not agree.

Calvinism is all Law and rationalistic, so it always ends in Unitarianism.

LPC said...

Thanks Pr. Greg.

That is much clearer.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

From what I read of sermons on the 'net, Lito, I fear you are right - there is a dearth of textual preaching from the Lutheran pulpit. The occasional thematic or topical sermon might be justifiable, but only in the context of preaching that regularly engages the hearers with the text. It is indeed instructive how deeply engaged with the text Luther was in his sermons, so where did we go wrong? I suspect it was when dogmatics usurped exegesis at the heart of seminary education.

LPC said...

Pr. Mark.

I am glad I am not alone and when you say dogmatics usurped exegesis.

I have been crossing swords with Kilcrease and in his method, he wanted to go on conceptualities hence philosophical engagement where as I had one simple question, show me from Scripture.

Dogmatics live on top of exegesis and if the foundation is dirt, dogmatics is like grass.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Yes, I don't mean to downplay the importance of dogmatics - I love dogmatics! - but exegesis is foundational. It's interesting then that a lot of Lutheran dogmatics works don't engage in much exegesis, rather they just state the proof texts. Now, there's nothing wrong with that - our Lord Jesus did it himself! - but after several geneartyions it seems to me that new readers may not know how to find the doctrine in the text anymore - they have to be shown. By the way, my Greek New Testament lecturer, Dr Greg Lockwood, was very good at modelling this for us students, and I will always be thankful to him for doing that.

LPC said...

Pr. Mark,

Understood. However, a dogmatician who does not do the hard work of exegesis is not worth his salt.

Exegesis should be the tool of the trade.

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

Good psot.

I abandoned the Baptist church because I could no longer find Bible exposition. I've gone PCA.

Maybe we could all follow Luther's example in exposition, law and gospel.

JK

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Luther's sermons are the best theological books around. I like the compact set which comes from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Another way to read Luther's exposition is the Large Catechism. No one comes close to Luther in Biblical exposition, so why have Lutherans abandoned the field to the Calvinists? Strange.

LPC said...

Pr. Greg,

I think Luther's sermon style should be studied. He has insights that are hard to beat and his exposition is always related to the text. The LC is impressive. Luther there connects the text with what he says in a consistent fashion. This feeds God's people.

I admit, Lutheran preaching is the hardest to do, for in a text the preacher has to show where the Law and the Gospel happens to be. The Lutheran preacher has more work to do, this I admit. However the fruit of his labor is never in vain and rather than experimenting on various fads and theories, why not experiment on this - consistently exposit the passage in a Law/Gospel paradigm and let the seeds mature, let's see what happens.

Mega churches, church and change people, CG do not produce genuine believers because they are founded on psycho-social sensibilities and not on proper use of Scripture.

LPC

LPC said...

JK,

I am aware of your journey.

The strength of Lutheranism is in its serious doctrine of the Means of Grace - that is, the Gospel found in the Word and Sacraments.

Unfortunately I am not sure how this is exuded to you where you are. I am sure you are observing Lutherans there as a Presbyterian.

I hope you have been listening here to get a view of our inter-Lutheran debates (differences in our own camp).

Old Lutheranism believes The HS can not be found anywhere guaranteed except in Word and Sacrament properly administered. Any other method for doing church is just mysticism.

LPC

Gregory L. Jackson said...

LPC, I would argue that the efficacy of the Word in the Means of Grace is primarily Biblical and consequently taught by Lutherans who take the Word seriously. Zwingli began the denial of the Sacraments with his mocking statement "the Holy Spirit does not need a vehicle like an ox cart." Calvin followed Zwingli in separating the Holy Spirit from the Word and Sacraments. Isaiah 55:8-11 makes that impossible.

Steven Goodrich said...

I also agree with you LPC that most Lutheran preaching is weak on exposition, and because of that is weak on proclaiming Law and Gospel.

LPC said...

Steven,

I am glad we got something that we agree about. Exposition is quite rare. It is more the exception today than the rule. Luther's sermons judging from a few I have read (as I do not claim to be a Luther expert) have tons of exposition.

My thesis is that this lack of exposition stems from a belief system.

If the preacher believes like C F W Walther who said "You are saved to believe", then what is really to be exposited? If as Walther taught that at the Cross everyone has already been declared righteous by virtue of Jesus' payment for sins, then what is really the problem? Effectively (in this thinking), there is no problem, faith does not need to be created it just needs to be redirected.

The function of the Law is to say to the sinner: You owe God Hell for you have violated his commands. You are on your way to eternal punishment because of this.

Although the Law's accusation may be deduced that it is saying we are not righteous, this is jumping the gun.

In UOJ, the story becomes or is changed to the Law saying you are not righteous, and the Gospel says you are declared righteous at the Cross.

What I am saying is that the Law's primary function has been changed by UOJ.

Rather, in JBFA, the story is that the Law accuses you of your guilt/debt and punishment and the Gospel says Jesus PAID for your debt. It does not jump the gun unlike UOJ does.

Kilcrease condescendingly insinuates that I do not understand Law and Gospel. You be the judge.

Peace,

LPC

Steven Goodrich said...

Let me ask you a quick question. How many of Walther's sermons have you read.

I disagree with your premise but not your conclusion. In fact, I think you are over thinking this. The lack of exposition comes from laziness.

LPC said...

Steven,

How many of Walther's sermons have you read

What does it matter if I have read or have not read enough. The issue is not on how many, but how right he said what he said.

I think ideas have consequences.

LPC

LPC said...

Incidentally I have read his Law and Gospel book and some of his essays found in the internet.

LPC

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Have you met with Walther and told him his sins privately? Wait, he's dead. Nevermind.

Walther has many good insights, which I use as background and also as direct quotations. That does not mean he is correct about the entire world being absolved on Easter.

Walther's search for forgiveness in an era of Pietism made this contortion in justification seem appealing. Walther was good at criticizing the weak points of Pietism in Law and Gospel, but he never named Spener, even though other Pietists were singled out.

Why is that? Spener was untouchable so his influence lingered. At the time, knocking Spener was tantamount to criticizing Church Growth today. Therefore, the foundation of Enthusiasm set the state for another version, the Fuller Seminary brand of Neo-Pietism with a dash of Asian occultic religion (via Napoleon Hill, Robert Schuller, Paul Y. Cho).

I wish Lutherans would show a bit more intellectual curiosity. This is all on the Net.

Thanks for providing a blog with genuine discussions, LPC.

Steven Goodrich said...

The reason I asked is because I think (and you may disagree) that Walther's sermons like Luther's before him contain a good deal of exposition unlike sermons today (even though you disagree with his conclusions). I also agree Pr. Jackson that not everything Walther or Luther said is right. I just happen to think that this is a point that they both got right.

LPC said...

Steven,

Luther unlike Calvin spoke clearly and without ambiguity.

. I just happen to think that this is a point that they both got right.

Excuse me. This is the type of UOJ statement and claim that makes UOJ very poor as it is just fallacious generalization and also anachronistic.

I'd say no, Luther got it right but Walther went beyond the fence and so got it wrong.

LPC

LPC said...

Pr. GJ,

Thanks for providing a blog with genuine discussions

Actually thanks for discussing these issues in your blog. Had I not wondered off at Ichabod, I would not know what the issue was all about. It helped me to be more precise in my thinking.

As you say, ambiguity is the mother of confusion (my version).

LPC

David Cochrane said...

Apart from Dr Luther's works where can one find these types of sermons? In my honest opinion noone can hold a candle to Luther's preaching. Am I incorrect and is there a link where one can go to read or hear these sermons?

Thank you and God's peace. †

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Who needs more than Luther? His sermons are worth re-reading. I highly recommend all of Chemnitz' books, which are witty, articulate, and reflective of the best in Luther and Melanchthon.

Brett Meyer said...

Martin Luther's sermons

http://www.trinitylutheranms.org/MartinLuther/SermonsPage.html

Martin Luther's essay on Galations

http://www.bibleteacher.org/luthercom.htm

LPC said...

D.C.

Try also the Large Catechism, that is a swag of sermons from Luther.

LPC

David Cochrane said...

Ty for the links St. Brett. I have been reading Luther's sermons and love them dearly.

St Lito,

Yes I have been studying the Book of Concord and the large Cat. Was the initial part I studied. The post was saying the sermons today fall short and I totally agree. My wonder is where is the preaching located today to which we can refer that does on see a pastor exegeting without confusing law and Gospel?

God's peace. †

Joseph Schmidt said...

Pastor Michael McCoy who runs the scholia.net website recorded all of Luther's church postil (along with the entire Book of Concord, Luther's Commentary on Galatians, Gerhard's Sacred Meditations, and Martin Moller's Preparing for Death) which are always a pleasure to listen to. I'm not sure if he makes available for sale the audio DVDs anymore. I don't see the link on his page.

I found a recording of Luther's Bondage of the Will from a Calvinist website that I linked to on my blog: http://cumsanctospiritu.blogspot.com/2009/10/martin-luthers-bondage-of-will.html.

Happy listening!